“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
Last week we talked about how the world is full of patterns and this statement is reiterated in the passage up above. Notice however that it says we are to “not conform to the pattern of this world.” The world’s pattern is one of negativity, selfishness, greed, anger and fear. All those factors lead to the product of dreadful living, but we are to be transformed and begin to live a new pattern, one that is being shaped by our faith.
As I have studied joy over the last three years, I have discovered five patterns that are present in joyful living. We will examine the first two in this post and then explore the remaining three in the next post.
For many years, researchers have said that gratitude is powerful and can change your relationships, your job, your health, etc., which is why even Oprah keeps a gratitude journal because she is all about creating transformation.
Gratitude in essence is a spiritual discipline that needs to be practiced on a daily basis. As Henri Nouwen wrote, “The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious. Because every blessing I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with gratitude.”
I would challenge you though not to just be grateful for what you can see, but also what you believe is on its way. For instance instead of just saying “I am grateful for a hot meal, a warm bed, or a roof over my head;,” why not say “I am grateful for the opportunities you are bringing into my life.” Or “I am grateful for the healing that I know is on it’s way.” Don’t just be grateful for the past, joy-filled living includes our present and our future.
Have you ever noticed that once you start practicing being more grateful in your life you also become more giving? I know that when I have meditated on all the blessings I have in my life I begin to realize I have more than enough. This awareness then allows me to be free to be generous on every occasion because I am no longer hoarding my resources and seeing only scarcity instead I see abundance. Then when I give to someone of my time, talent or treasures I create the space to be the reason for someone else’s gratitude. How cool is that to think that your name might appear in someone else’s gratitude journal for doing a simple act of kindness like opening the door, buying a cup of coffee, smiling at someone. This gratitude-generosity pattern then creates a continuous loop where we are thankful for our blessings and that thankfulness then inspires our own generosity.
Gratitude and generosity are the roots of joyful living. Today reflect on what you are grateful for and then freely give to someone in need.
Discussion with Dawn: I would love to hear what is one thing you are grateful for today and what act of kindness you did to be a reason for someone else’s gratitude.